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Readers could quiz councillors via paper's blog

Reporters could be given the right to ask questions in council meetings on behalf of readers under plans being drawn up by the Manchester Evening News.

The MEN has been live-blogging proceedings of all ten local authorities in Greater Manchster since before Christmas.

Audiences have been growing steadily since the service was launched and the liveblogs are now followed by several hundred viewers.

Now the paper wants to use the idea to enable reporters to ask questions that readers have posted during meetings.

The idea was one of the items under discussion last week as the journalists from the paper met Manchester city councillors and press officers to discuss the liveblogs.

MEN head of online Paul Gallagher said: “It’s helping to further engage people who are interested in this sort of thing rather than getting mass audiences.

“It has been a really positive thing for all the people concerned; the journalists, the councillors and the readers. Everyone has been really pleased with it.

“What we are building up to is for a reader to be able to post a question on the blog and for the reporter to stand up in the meeting and say ‘Mr X in Salford would like to ask whether…'”

All full meetings of the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester – roughly two a week – are attended by a reporter from the MEN or from one of its weekly sister titles in the MEN Media stable.

Reporters post live updates onto the MEN website via mobile phone.

The live blog is also used by the Guardian Media Group title for meetings of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and the Greater Manchester Police Authority

The most recent Greater Manchester Police Authority meeting yielded a front page splash for the evening title after chief constable Peter Fahy suggested a special court to deal with shoplifters could be set up in the local Arndale Centre.